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Application filed in SC urging rollback of WhatsApp Pay trial


Urging the Supreme Court to be wary of WhatApp’s poor data record, the Centre for Accountability and Systemic Change (CASC), a think-tank that takes up public interest issues, has filed an interim application demanding immediate rollback of its digital payment trial.

CASC requested the apex court to stop the messaging platform’s ongoing trial with 1 million users and direct the RBI to verify the permission granted for trials.

“There cannot be any blanket permission for trials, and the same should be restricted by duration, number of banks involved and monetary limits. WhatsApp on many occasions has claimed compliance with RBI data localization norms, even though RBI’s affidavit clearly proves that it is not the case,” said the submitted interim application.

CASC further cited RBI’s affidavit submitted to the top court last November saying that the messaging platform had not yet fully complied with data localisation rules.

Sensitive personal data of one million Indians, including financial data, cannot be stored outside India in contravention to the RBI Circular, the application added.

The development comes after WhatsApp was granted a licence last week by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) to operate its digital payment service in a phased manner.

The messaging platform has been beta testing its payment service on select one million users for the past two years. After the NPCI approval, WhatsApp will test the feature on a larger user base of 10 million before rolling out fully.

The feature will be made available only after the Facebook-owned platform is found fully in compliance with government regulations.

With over 400 million user base, WhatsApp will take on existing players Google Pay, Phone Pe and Paytm in the UPI ecosystem. According to observers of the payment market, the messaging platform might disrupt the space with its volume and value of transactions.

Meanwhile, this is not the first time that CASC has taken WhatsApp to court.

Earlier, it had accused the messaging firm of not complying with the government’s IT laws. It had also outlined that the firm has not appointed any local grievance officer.

As per the IT Act, intermediaries platforms need to appoint a grievance officer to handle users queries or concerns.

Later, WhatsApp had said that it has both an Indian corporate entity and a grievance officer for Indian users.

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